Advocates for higher taxes to fund bigger government in Nevada are in overdrive trying to persuade taxpayers that the 2015 legislative budget game is over and we should just bend over and “take it like a man.”
As the argument is going, the governor’s $7.3 billion budget has already been reviewed and approved by the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees and, therefore, are a done deal and cannot be reopened.
As such, the only thing left to do is to approve a billion dollar tax package to pay for the additional billion dollars worth of spending.
Indeed, that’s exactly what my friend and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius wrote today…
“Review and debate over budgets has been done; now’s the time to decide how to fund it.”
The fat lady has NOT sung yet.
Yes, the budgets have been closed in the two spending COMMITTEES.
But they have NOT been closed and approved by the full Assembly.
And here’s the thing…
The make-up of the committees does not necessarily reflect the makeup of the full Assembly, at least as far as Republicans go.
Remember, back in December and January the liberal faction of the Republican Assembly Caucus successfully engineered a coup to remove conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore as Majority Leader and Chair of the Taxation Committee after Assemblyman Ira Hansen resigned as Speaker-designate.
We’re now seeing exactly why sidelining Fiore was so important to establishment, big government Republicans.
Coup leader Assemblyman John Hambrick then installed liberal Republican Assemblyman Paul Anderson as Majority Leader and tapped still-wet-behind-the-ears freshman Republican Assemblyman Derek Armstrong – a good, little establishment soldier boy who will do exactly as he’s told – to chair the Higher Taxation Committee.
They then went on to stack the money committees with Gumby Republicans who would roll over and go along with whatever Gov. Brian Sandoval told them to go along with. Only a couple of true, independent-thinking fiscal conservatives were allowed to remain on these committees as “tokens.”
Indeed, when the governor’s new gross receipts tax was voted on in committee yesterday, five liberal, tax-hiking Republicans voted for it: Assemblymen Hambrick, Anderson, Pat “RINO” Hickey, Randy “Kirner Tax” Kirner and James Oscarson.
[SIDENOTE: Hello, Pahrumpians…do you still think your man Oscarson is the conservative he’s been pretending to be? Do you have a primary opponent warming up in the bullpen yet?]
So the tax-hikers are in a position to force their will on conservatives in committee votes, but the playing field changes dramatically once these bills hit the floor. Here’s why…
The Gibbons Tax Restraint law.
The tax restraint provision in Nevada’s Constitution requires a 2/3 super-majority vote to approve tax hikes. And while Democrats and Sandoval Republicans may have the simple-majority of 22 votes needed to pass the budgets, that doesn’t mean they have the super-majority of 28 votes needed to pass the take hikes.
Yes, the establishment Republicans have the votes to force the billion dollar spending hike down the throats of conservatives, but just 15 conservative Republicans can still block the tax hikes – just as the “Lean 15” did in 2003.
And if Assembly Republicans wise up and get their $#!& together, they’d send the tax hikes to the floor of the Assembly FIRST, before the budget bills.
Then if the tax hikes are shot down or watered down, the governor and his big government hand-maidens in the GOP Assembly leadership will have no choice but to reopen the budgets and cut at least some of the proposed new spending.
And while I have little faith that there are 15 Republicans in this gaggle of Assembly Republicans with the backbones and fortitude of the Lean 15 – it looks like there are only 12 at this point – there’s still a long-shot chance that three or more of them, when push comes to shove, will find their “inner Reagan,” say no to Sandoval’s billion dollar tax hike, and stick to it.
As the saying goes, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over…and it ain’t over yet.
As Sen. John “Bluto” Blutarsky said in Animal House, “Nothing’s over until we decide it is.”
(* Every time I publish the “Germans bombed Pearl Harbor line, someone writes to inform me that it was the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor. That’s because they never saw this scene from Animal House.)